First-ever certificate on inclusive teaching offered at Washburn

Yue Li and Joelle Conway

There were a variety of events offered throughout the 2018-2019 school year for Washburn faculty and staff to attend in order to receive a Certificate of Inclusive Teaching and Learning. This past school year was the first time the inclusive teaching certificate was offered to faculty and staff of Washburn. To achieve this certificate, one must attend nine different diversity and inclusion events.

The events and classes that counted toward the Certificate of Inclusive Teaching and Learning took place from September 2018 to April 2019. Throughout the eight month period, several qualifying events for the certificate took place each month. Among those included events discussing topics such as student mental health, multicultural teaching, creating a safe space in the classroom, inclusion, trauma-informed teaching, free speech and much more. Professors and instructors can include a statement about their completion of certificate in their syllabus, or put it on their office as a placard, sending outward messages to students that they are sensitive to these issues.

Kaitlin Alegria, assistant director of programs and outreach of Washburn School of Law, is a recipient of the Certificate of Inclusive Teaching. She took 17 of the offered events for the certificate. Part of Alegria’s job entails recruiting students.

“(I) assist with recruiting in general, but also with a focus on students that are underrepresented in law. That’s specific categories of people including minority women, LGBT, which lends itself to the diversity and inclusion conversation,” said Alegria.

In addition to recruiting, Alegria delivers Continuing Legal Education Seminars (CLS). For Alegria, she wanted to learn how to be more engaging to the audience at CLS. 

“I wanted to get away from powerpoint and lecture, and more toward group discussions, interactive activities and shake things up in my continuing legal education presentations,” said Alegria.

One important theme in some of the offered events was student mental health. Many faculty members have students confide in them about their mental health concerns. Some faculty and staff don’t know exactly how to help these students. 

“Some faculty went to the leader, or the people who coordinate C-TEL events, to ask for help regarding handling student mental health. They did a three part session on helping faculty and staff guide students towards mental health resources on campus,” said Alegria, “I’m impressed with how someone from the English department and someone from counseling services and someone from the law school all come together and have these conversations and are really trying to go beyond just giving students grades and moving them along.”

Another faculty member who received the certificate is Jessica Cless. Cless is an assistant professor of the human services department and facilitated the C-TEL Diversity and Inclusion event titled “Trauma-informed Teaching Practices in Higher Education.” The event was held twice, once each semester.  She thought it was beneficial to have events that discussed handling students with trauma.

“I have a heart for working with veterans affected by trauma. I really appreciated the seminars on how to work with veteran students and some different things in the classroom that can sort of pull from their strengths from their military experience, but also be sensitive to their military experience,” said Cless, “I think that if I had to make a general statement, a takeaway is that you have to get to know your students and be thinking about their experience, as well as what you have to teach them.” 

Those who completed the required nine classes to receive the Certificate of Inclusive Teaching and Learning are listed as follows (in no particular order): Craig Haugsness, Scott Saint, Erin Grant, Chris Jones, Vanessa Steinroetter, Sandra Tutwiler, Kristine Hart, Mary Sheldon, Muffy Walter, Jason Miller, Kara Kendall-Morwick, Mary Menninger-Corder, Stacy Conner, Craig Carter, Jose Parada, Drew Burks, Kerry Wynn, Steve Hageman, Marisa Gonzales, Todd Cooksey, Davie Washington, Kelly McClendon, Kelly Erby, Karen Barron, Jia Feng, Geoffrey Way, Toni Caldwell, Liz Derrington, Jessica Cless, Kaitlin Alegria, Chaz Havens and Tracy Rousting.

A full list of C-TEL events previously offered in the 2018-2019 school year may be found at: The C-TEL event schedule for the upcoming school year has yet to be released.

Edited by Adam White and Abbie Barth